Visibility is critical in today’s digital marketing landscape. Your search engine optimization (SEO) game needs to be on point if you’re going to compete. Any SEO strategy will do at first, but tweaking your optimization tactics will earn you maximum gains once you’re established.
One of the best sources of information you have is the long line of competitors in your niche, especially those currently outranking you on searches. You can uncover several details about their strategy by performing a simple SEO competitor analysis, which will show you what they’re doing to succeed.
Even a short SEO competitor analysis will help you figure out:
- What works in your industry
- Competitors’ SEO strengths and weaknesses
- Which SEO tasks to explore
- The search engine results page (SERP) fights you want to prioritize
This wealth of information can assist with every aspect of your online business strategy. It identifies mistakes to avoid, moves to emulate and the actions to take next for a more successful SEO campaign.
If you’re struggling to raise your ranking organically, an SEO competitor analysis might be the tool you need.
What is SEO Competitor Analysis?
There’s not much to the concept of improving your business offering by looking around your industry for ideas, trends and warning signs. SEO competitor analysis is a systematic investigation of every aspect of your SEO competitors’ strategy to learn more about how they do things.
It helps you garner a clear overview of the current competitive landscape. Then, it digs into the details for backlinks, keywords, traffic by country, potential content gaps, optimization and even pay-per-click (PPC) strategies.
The main advantage of SEO competitor analysis is that you don’t waste time reinventing the wheel. Your competitors have done the hard work of making mistakes and tweaking campaigns, letting you glean what can be beneficial to you and discard the rest. No matter where you are in your own campaign, knowing what your SEO competition is doing adds a layer of information without requiring you to spend the time developing the same strategy yourself.
The first step in performing a thorough competitor analysis is to choose the right technique. Competitor research methods dig deep into the fundamentals, and there are plenty of different analysis tools available online.
The process remains the same, so you can apply our tips within your preferred SEO research tool or platform:
- Identify SEO competitors
- Evaluate keywords
- Discover content gaps
- Explore the site
- Identify key traffic locations
- Analyze PPC strategy
Identify SEO Competitors
You should know your business competitors inside out, but these companies are not necessarily your SEO competitors. A 2020 survey found that 70 percent of small businesses didn’t have an SEO strategy in place. It will vary by industry, but you need to research thoroughly to discover who you’re competing against in the online space.
Discovering your competition is simple: Enter your top keywords into Google and check which sites consistently appear in the top 10 search results. Take special note of local competitors. Is there something notable about their SERP landscape (like masses of video content)?
The number of competitors you discover will depend on your industry and location. Try to limit your analysis to the first five results that are leading the pack.
Evaluate Your Keywords
Challenging an entrenched SEO competitor is entirely different from entering a less competitive market. Some keywords are extremely competitive, and it may be better to direct your resources elsewhere.
Understanding your competitors’ strengths is an excellent place to start. It shows you the work needed for strengthening your brand’s performance for a particular keyword. It may also help you decide whether to focus on difficult keywords or target niche keywords instead.
You can use your SEO competitor analysis tool to discover their total domain strength in these searches. Once you have a clearer picture of difficult or easy keywords, you can delve into the potential strengths and weaknesses of your competitors in your own strategy, including domain authority, traffic and backlinks.
- Domain authority (DA) rating
A higher domain authority rating indicates that the website has a strong backlink profile. Comparing your DA with your competitors’ DA lets you see where your site stands on a particular keyword.
- Traffic volumes
Your competitors may have amazing SEO, but it’s still essential to measure their organic click-through rate (CTR). Traffic volumes show how many customers stay on a site once they’ve clicked on the search result.
- Backlink data
Sites that acquire referring domains tend to do better in overall search rankings. You can evaluate how quickly your competitor is gaining new referring domains and their general trends. If you notice a sharp spike in link acquisition, specific content might be doing well, or their link-building strategy is succeeding.
A particular piece of content will generate many links pointing to the same page. Discovering these links will help you identify the piece of content and see why (and what) it did so well.
Discover Content Gaps
Most analysis tools identify certain keywords that you don’t rank for but your competitors do. Discovering your missing keywords presents many new opportunities to exploit. You can then decide which keywords to target based on complexity and search volume.
Many sites also have dead information pages, such as blog posts or outdated infographics. These broken links represent an opportunity to fill a content gap and generate new backlinks.
If you find a broken link with backlinks, your first step should be to find out what the page used to contain. If it’s related to your business, create similar content of higher quality and contact everyone who linked to that dead page, inviting them to link to your page instead.
Explore the Site
There is much to learn from site structure, user experience and on-site content. One of Google’s primary focus areas is to ensure that users find precisely the results they want for an excellent user experience. Many algorithm tweaks create a better user experience by providing faster pages, mobile-friendly sites and smarter search results.
Compare your website with your SEO competition to discover how you rate. Websites with terrible user experiences that still rank well represent an excellent opportunity to provide something better. Sites with better click depth might give you exceptional learning opportunities.
Look at how your competitors publish content. You can learn a lot from analyzing a website’s on-site SEO, including what and how often competitors publish, the type of content and the keywords targeted.
In your search, you will hopefully discover what types of content are popular, the level of detail and the length of successful content posts. If you notice a particular weakness, it might give you another easy opportunity to do something better in your niche.
Identify Key Traffic Locations
Knowing which countries provide the bulk of organic traffic to your competitors is invaluable information. You can identify new opportunities to focus on neglected locations, strengthening your presence in key markets.
Your chosen analysis tool will usually help you identify the top five countries with traffic percentages for a particular keyword. If you notice that your competitors receive a fair amount of international traffic, consider offering language alternatives to your landing page or blog content. However, before launching a foray into Afrikaans or Mandarin, consider the overall traffic value.
The term “traffic volume” can be a misleading metric. Traffic from some countries is more valuable than others. For instance, if a competitor has an equal amount of traffic from Mexico and the U.K., it may be tempting to start focusing on the less competitive Mexico.
However, once you look at the value of each stream, you may discover that the U.K.’s traffic value is significantly higher and represents a better use of your resources.
Analyze Your SEO Competition’s PPC Strategy
Most businesses use PPC to supplement their SEO. If you’re still failing to outrank your competitors despite optimizing your SEO, you may simply be losing to paid traffic.
It’s never a good idea to try and outspend your competition, but knowing your industry’s average marketing spend can help you plan your budget more effectively. Investigating the competition’s PPC strategy also offers insights into which keywords are so valuable that they’re willing to pay for them.
It’s an excellent way to discover low-volume, high-paying keywords that reap great rewards in your niche. PPC needs to be incredibly enticing, so many companies will spend a lot of time (and resources) honing their ad copy. You can take advantage of that by examining what they use to entice each click and incorporate it into your own content for organic searches.
Key Takeaways and Best Practices
SEO competitor analysis helps you sidestep a lot of the mistakes involved in setting up SEO and discover content gaps. You can learn what your competition is doing better than you in key traffic locations and tweak your own strategy with keywords and backlinks. You can also identify potential weaknesses so that you can rise through the rankings.
A comprehensive SEO competitor analysis provides a roadmap for where to best focus your efforts. Any analysis is incomplete without the proper research tools, so don’t attempt this process without some form of competitor analysis software.
The Secret is an SEO Competitor Analysis
Undoubtedly, SEO competitor analysis will improve your own strategy and rankings. You can even do deep dives into your SEO competitors for granular information that can influence your own practices. Regular competitor analysis may feel time-consuming, but the rewards are well worth the effort.